Broadly speaking, there are two schools of thought behind the non-meat burger. One believes that the veggie burger has no aspirations beyond being a mere substitute, forced into a mimicry of the textures and flavors of animal flesh; the other represents the apex of all that’s defiant and spontaneous about cuisine. And while modern-day journalism typically (tragically) dictates a Both-Sides™ standard, there’s no skirting the objective truth on this one: The latter school of thought is patently right.
Thankfully Lekka Burger, Lower Manhattan’s new plant-based burger joint (81 Warren Street) and the brainchild of chef Amanda Cohen (Dirt Candy), understands that a veggie burger shouldn’t be a shadow of what’s bad for you and for the planet, but an opportunity to innovate and stand out.
This week a few Downtown Alliance staffers enjoyed a 100 percent vegan lunch at Lekka, comprised of the Guacamole Burger (a mystery-recipe patty topped with hatch chili sauce, lime guacamole, radishes, cilantro, lettuce), the Peri Peri Burger (mystery patty, peri peri sauce, mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion) and the Lekka Cheeseburger (vegan cheese sauce, ketchup, mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, house pickles). Needless to say, no meat imposter syndrome with these layered and inventive flavors. Crinkle-cut fries piled up on the side, plus a broccolini caesar (nori caesar dressing, smoked crouton crumble, romaine) filled out the trays.
Naturally, Grapefruit Tequila Palomas successfully washed down the utterly unique, stand-out-on-their-own vegan burgers.
Another misapprehension about vegan fare is that a plant-based lunch can’t keep you full long enough to last through the rest of the work day — but no such problems surfaced after the Lekka lunch. Full-stomached staffers even had to take measures against an impending food coma, taking a stroll around the neighborhood and stopping in for a feast for the eyes at the nearby Poster Museum.